Business Bytes | Finding your power in tough times, Sheldon Human Capital Solutions
April 29, 2019
Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative and B-BBEE
April 29, 2019

How the PATERNITY LEAVE and UIF AMENDMENTS will affect your HR Department

There has been much written about the amendment to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) which introduce the right for all parents – as opposed to only mothers who have given birth– to apply for leave after their children have come into their lives. The amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Act were signed into law on 2 January this year. It is still to be implemented and we await at time of writing this an implementation date. These contain important alterations to the periods that claims may be validly lodged as well as the amounts that may be claimed.

The new provisions provide for 10 consecutive days of unpaid parental leave per annum. This may be taken when:
An employee’s child is born,
From the date that the adoption order is finalised, or
A competent court places the adoptive child into the care of the parents pending the finalisation of the adoption order.

In addition, the amendments allow for employees to take adoption leave and commissioning parental leave depending on their particular circumstances:
An employee is entitled to 10 consecutive weeks of unpaid adoption leave. This applies to if the child being adopted is under the age of 2. The leave begins on the date that the adoption order is finalised or when a competent court places the adoptive child into the care of the parents pending the finalisation of the adoption order. If the child is being adopted by a couple, one parent may apply for adoption leave and the other may request parental leave.
If an employee is expecting a child via a surrogate mother, they may apply for 10 consecutive weeks of unpaid commissioning parental leave. This will begin on the day that the child is born. The second parent may apply for parental leave.

It is very important to note that all employees will need to notify their employers a month before they intend to go on leave, that they would like to apply for these benefits. These new provisions do not affect the existing maternity and family responsibility leave allocations.

There have been a number of changes to the UIF Act:
Previously, the window to claim unemployment insurance benefits was six months from the date the employee goes on parental, maternity, commissioning parental or adoption leave. This has been extended to 12 months from the date they go on leave.
Illness payments can now be claimed after seven days. Under the previous regime, it was 14 days.
If a woman’s child is stillborn in the third trimester, she is entitled to 121 days of maternity benefits.
In terms of parental, commissioning parental leave and adoption leave, a flat rate of 66% is paid.

We recommend that you adjust your HR policies to take into account these new leave provisions and that you inform all employees of what they may claim from the UIF should they need to.

• Jonathan Goldberg | Global Business Solutions